Huey Newton and Bobby Seale articulated their goals in a “10 Point Program“. Among some of the things highlighted in this 10 Point Program were – exemption of black men from military service and an end to police brutality. See Ten Point Program
They summarized their Ten Point Program by saying: we want land, bread, housing, education, clothing, justice, and peace. Huey Newton and Bobby Seale were heavily influenced by the black Muslims leader Malcolm X.
They also supported other black power movement’s that stressed racial dignity, and self reliance. Black Panther party members regularly patrolled black communities to monitor police activity and protect the residents from police brutality.
The Black Panther party movement combined elements of Socialism and Black Nationalism; they firmly believe that if businesses did not provide full employment the community should take over their means of production. The Black Panther party also emphasized class unity, criticizing the black middle class for acting against the interests of less fortunate blacks.
The Black Panther party first attracted attention in May 1967 when it protested a bill to outlaw carrying loaded weapons in public. After Bobby Seale’s statement police arrested him and 30 others. This led to the formation of chapters outside the San Francisco Bay area. Among those arrested in Sacramento was Eldridge Cleaver who had recently published a book called Soul on Ice.
After Newton’s arrest Eldridge Cleaver quickly rose as a power speaker and took the lead in building the “Free Huey Newton Movement“. Cleaver and Bobby seal contacted Stokley Carmichael who was the former president of SNCC.
The free Huey Newton movement allowed the Black Panther party to expand its following nationally. As racial tension increased around the country the Federal Bureau of Investigation blame the Black Panther party for riots and other incidents of violence. The FBI launch a program called: COINTELPRO, this group was designed disrupt efforts to unify black militant groups. The FBI sent threatening letters to Panthers, they infiltrated the group with informers and also work with local police to weekend the Black Panther party.
In December 1969 two major figures of the Black Panther party Fred Hampton and Mark Clark were killed in a police raid, 28 Panthers had been killed and many were either in jail or have been forced to leave the country.
After Huey Newton’s release from jail, he tried to revive the Black Panther Party and reestablish his control. Instead of advocating police confrontation Newton called for the development of survival programs in black communities.
These programs provided:
- free breakfast programs for children…
- free medical clinics…
- helped the homeless find housing…
- and gave away free clothing and food.
In 1973 Bobby Seale tried to build support for the party by running for mayor of Oakland he was defeated, but received over 40% of the vote. Although the Black Panther party attempted to shift directions to prevent further attacks and internal conflicts, the party continued to decline as a political force.
Bobby Seale separated from Cleaver and continued to support black revolution instead of community programs. In 1974 he resigned from the Black Panther party. A new leader emerged in the Black Panther party. She was Elaine Brown.
Elaine Brown continued to emphasize community service programs. By the mid-1970s these programs were organized and run by black women. The Black Panther party lost even more support after newspapers reported illicit activities of Black Panther party leaders. At the end of the 1970s the Black Panther party was weakened even more by external attacks, legal problems, and internal division.
The black power movement was debated continuously while the movement was in progress. To some it represented black’s insistence on racial equality and self-reliance. To others it represented every action against the racism that persistent despite the efforts of black activism,
The Black Panther Party became the most prominent organization advocating black power. The party separated in 1972 because of divisions within the movement, some favoring peaceful means to achieve his goals while other continuing to advocate militantcy. The Black Panther party movement largely disappeared in 1970, although the idea remained a powerful one in the consciousness of black Americans.
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